Thursday, July 10, 2008

Family Caregiver Retreat... October 17-19

You may be wondering if I've had a little too much sun this week, choosing an image of fall foliage for a July post.  But my reasonably clear headed intention was to use that incongruity to draw your attention to the new Caregiver Wellness Family Caregiver Retreat to be held at the Bethlehem Retreat Center in Nanaimo, BC   (Vancouver Island) this October.

This retreat is a response to the oft repeated desire of family caregivers to, "get away somewhere close",  to rest and re-create.  The Bethlehem Retreat Center is a 1 hour and 45 minute ferry trip from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay or 2 hours from Tsawwassen to Duke Point.  You can travel inexpensively as a foot passenger and then take a $20.00 taxi ride to the Center on the shore of Westwood Lake.  Or you can take your own car - there are plenty of parking spots.  

The ferry ride provides a perfect natural boundary between the stresses of home and the peace of the retreat, yet it also allows a reasonably quick return should you be needed back on the mainland.

The retreat, itself, runs from 7 pm Friday night until after lunch on Sunday and there will be times of silent rest and reflection, times to connect with other caregivers and times to walk the tree-lined path around the lake,  curl up in a chair by the fire or fit in an extra nap or two.

This is not a religious retreat though the Retreat Center is run by the House of Bread Benedictine community and there is a lovely chapel overlooking the lake where one can sit in quiet prayer or meditation.  Our group discussions will focus on the emotional journey of caregiving and on developing a personalized self care plan to build resiliency to burnout and compassion fatigue.

Every caregiving situation is unique and sometimes it is simply impossible to get away from home, but I encourage you to at least consider treating yourself to this weekend away. Dare to ask for the help you need to make it happen.  (You might be surprised to discover how many friends and acquaintances want to help but don't know how.  Tell them that you need someone to stay with or visit the care recipient.  Someone to drive you to and from the ferry.  Someone to lend you the $200.00 for the registration.   Someone to take your loved one to appointments or to care for your kids.  Whatever you need.  

What's the worst thing that could happen if you asked?  They might refuse?  Try not to take it personally if that  does occur - others have their "stuff" as well.   Then give the gift of being asked to someone else.   And if you're too exhausted to even think about all that organizing, is there someone you trust who could do it for you...?  Or even part of it..?)

Although my husband became anxious and reluctant each time I went away on retreat, we soon discovered that, provided he felt safe with the temporary caregivers, he benefitted as much as I did from these short absences.  He ended up with a much happier carepartner and his world expanded as I shared with him, "...all the places I'd been and all the people I'd seen".  

For further information or to register, please email or phone me or the Bethlehem Retreat Center for a brochure.  My contact information is listed in the column to the left.  (Phone number until August 1st is 604 926 0609).  The Retreat Center can be reached at or at 250 754 3254.

And if you are a helping professional who would love to attend a similar self care retreat, please email me about your interest and,  if there is sufficient response,  we can look at planning a retreat for professional helpers as well.

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